SawStop Safety System Saga Steams Forward

Blade-braking technology is a vital part of the table saws from SawStop , the ability to stop a spinning blade in 1/100 of a second is what put the company on the map. SawStop table saws are the only woodworking machines with this technology. Is that about to change? Below is a link to a Boston Globe article detailing a jury-awarded verdict for a lawsuit that’s the first of its kind. We’re working on what this might mean to woodworkers and the woodworking industry. What do you think?

http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2010/03/06/man_wins_15m_in_first_of_its_kind_saw_case/?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed5

What changes do you see springing from cases such as these? If you don’t think changes are in the pipeline, take a look at this link.

http://tablesawattorney.com/index.php

For more background information, check out this article from INC. Magazine.

http://www.inc.com/magazine/20050701/disruptor-gass.html

– Glen D. Huey

36 thoughts on “SawStop Safety System Saga Steams Forward

  1. Alan McConnell

    Isn’t it just so nice that these lawyers are looking out for us. They could not give a rats-ass about our safety or well-being. They are looking to fatten their bank accounts, and really don’t care how. Same class of lawyers who have the auto accident injury settlement advertisements on television. Maybe we should get some lawyers to go after these folks for financial re-compensation damages to the machinery manufacturers. Too many frivolous lawsuits to these large companies will result in higher tool prices for us, or worse, manufacturers to cease production entirely. Wake up folks, these lawyers are NOT your friend!

  2. John

    Some of these points seem a little outdated, as the Sawstop Cabinet Saw is now priced lower than the newest Unisaw.

    I own a Sawstop (Industrial) Cabinet Saw, and while I looked at other saws before I bought mine, the quality of the saw coupled with the extra margin of safety it provides made the decision to spend an extra $500 over the Powermatic to which I compared it at the time (2005) an easy one.

    How much would I pay to have an index finger or thumb back? You better believe it’s one heck of a lot more than a few hundred, or even a few thousand, dollars.

    For the record, a few years’ experience with it has convinced me that the Sawstop Cabinet Saw is a better saw than any Delta or Powermatic I have ever used, in terms of fit, finish, reliability, power, noise level, dust collection and ergonomics.

    That’s a subjective opinion, of course, but it is rooted in more than 20 years’ woodworking experience.

    It surprises me to read that other woodworkers want to discount or ignore the plain fact that accidents happen in workshops, no matter how careful or diligent we are.

    Haven’t we all left a little blood in a project or two?

    Why wouldn’t you want – or demand – an inherently safer tool?

    Incidentally, I personally practice better shop safety in general, and especially on the tablesaw, now that I have a Sawstop. This is a big, powerful, industrial machine that commands a user’s attention when it is running, but the effect of having this saw in the middle of my shop is greater than that; it is a 750 pound reminder to work safely. Every time the black and red bulk of this machine enters my field of view, I am subconsciously reminded of why it exists in the first place -safety.

    Aside from the now largely moot discussion of price, a key issue in this debate is the ethical responsibility of manufacturers to incorporate safety advances into their products.

    In simplest terms it comes down to this: if a company, or industry, chooses greater risk (or less inherent safety) merely for the sake of higher profit margins (not black versus red ink, but black versus more black), then they have chosen avarice over virtue.

    Unfortunately, in the real world of corporate decision-making, virtue is seen as altruism, which is seen, in turn, as anathema to capitalism. Like parents correcting a willful child, we need, as a society, some mechanism to force virtue onto those who are otherwise intractable. Litigation and legislation, imperfect as they may be, are parts of those mechanisms.

    Interestingly, short-sighted decisions tend to be poor quality ones that ultimately hurt rather than help companies’ bottom lines. All things being equal, consumers tend to buy safer, higher quality products, as evidenced by the two-decade growth, and recent en masse defection, of Toyota buyers as a consequence of safety and quality concerns.

    Which brings me back to my opening statement: at it’s current price point, the Sawstop is poised to begin taking significant market share from other manufacturers who have resisted this technology. The lawsuit in Boston will become mere background noise compared to the clamor of lost revenue.

    Unfortunately, until manufacturers begin to willingly take the virtuous high-road, it will continue to take litigation to kick-start the process of making inherently safer products.

  3. Larry Bates

    The technology was available and he chose not to get it. And somehow this is the manufacturers fault?

  4. James Watriss

    Absolutely. I’m all for keeping good ideas and safer products as far away from the market as possible. We really need to stand up for the little guys. You know, the CEOs that make a killing while more and more of our tools are being made out of plastic… oops, sorry, "composite,"… and don’t have to care what people do or don’t know about common sense on saws. These poor people are a serious minority, and they have rights, too.

    I sold tools for three years, and I can gratefully say that I didn’t have to teach anyone anything, didn’t need to know if they’d ever even used one. Not my problem, learn by doing. Common sense comes from common experience. Just like hitting your thumb with a hammer, running your hand across the saw is how you learn these things… it’s recoverable. Not my fault, not my problem, don’t have to care… caveat emptor. Something better or safer is available? What, are you an idiot that you need these things? Piss off with your cross-peen hammers to keep from hitting your fingers, and your saw guards, and push sticks and your safety goggles, and ear plugs… be a man! Tell your boss that you’re tired, and don’t wanna work that day. Tell your wife to quit bugging you. Tell your 1 year old to quit crying in the middle of the night, get your priorities in order. This is all common sense, people!

  5. Steven D. Johnson

    Thank you for the link to the Inc Magazine article. The final paragraph really helped me make up my mind about buying a SawStop. The author stated that "Gass still dreams of getting out of manufacturing altogether. He really doesn’t want to make the power tools we buy. He just wants to make the power tools we buy better." I am certainly not interested in spending thousands for a tool from a manufacturer who says he wants to get out of the business. What would that mean for long term assurances of warranty, potential upgrades, product continuity, parts, etc.?

  6. Michael

    "The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers"
    (only if they are wall street and republican)

    Hey Chris, why did you put a link in your article to a tort lawyer fishing/phishing for clients?

  7. Chris Hudson

    Is SawStop worth it? One way to look at it is ‘expectancy theory’ – probability

    Say adding SawStop technology to a Saw costs $300. Say the cost of an amputation is $300,000. The ‘break even’ is 1 chance in 1000. Thus, if there is more than 1 chance in 1000 of an accident of this type – SawStop justifies itself. Given 131,000 saw injuries annually (yes, I realize most are kickbacks)I would think so.

    Admittedly, I hate large table saws. I avoid using one whenever possible – using my Festool TS-55, a bandsaw, even a PROXXON table saw for all small or thin parts.

    However, should I ever buy a full-size tablesaw, it will be a SawStop. How could I ever let my Grandchildren anywhere near my shop if there were a tablesaw without this technology??

    Chris

  8. J.Lemire

    I am a shop teacher at a Canadian High school. In 2006 I was given the go ahead by my division to buy a new table saw. I did some research and decided on the Saw Stop. The school division did not immediately agree because of the higher cost of this machine comapred to others. However, after considering the liability if they bought a standard saw knowing that there was a safer product on the market, they agreed to it. When the neighboring school division heard about this, they also replaced all table saws in their division high schools. In the past 4 years, 3 students in my shop have been spared their fingers, for which I am very grateful. The Saw Stop has reduced my stress level and I am sure, added a few years to my life expectancy. My colleagues at the other high schools are also happy with the Saw Stop. We particularly like the riving knife and anti kickback device. These features have practically eliminated kickback in our division. Before I had the Saw Stop kickback occured once per semester on average. Since 2006, I have only had one incident of potential kickback and the result was a lot less severe. In addition the placement of the on/off switch also helps prevent accidents. I have been teaching shop for 20 years and I am quite relieved that I will likely finish my career and not have nay student ever, sever their fingers. Thank you Mr. Gass!

  9. Jim S

    Responses to a couple of earlier posts:

    "No, actually they are doing it because of a new UL standard that started phasing in riving knives by 1/2010."

    "There are no UL standards that mandate anybody do anything. They are a privately owned testing agency with a federal charter of sorts. You can be "UL listed" if you pass their tests."

    I believe you are correct that the UL standards are voluntary. However, I’ve seen it in print in multiple places (for example, Fine Woodworking and Woodworkers’ Journal) that the new UL standard is what is motivating manufacturers to start using riving knives in the last year or so. They’ve been available in Europe (and praised) for many years, so it’s not like a new invention.

    "If there is no emphasis on proper and consistent use of all safety equipment, that Saw-Stop is just as dangerous as any other saw."

    No, it’s still much safer, since it will prevent most amputations and severe lacerations. I agree that not using the riving knife, guard, and push sticks is just stupid. I will say, though, that the guards/splitters/antikickback pawls that come with tablesaws are usually removed because usually they’re a pain and don’t work well. Hopefully, the new riving knives will be better.

  10. Lea

    The blade-stop technology on the Saw-Stop is great, but the emphasis on this particular safety feature of the saw is resulting in MORE dangerous saw usage.

    A snow-birding friend of mind invited me to a woodshop Open House at the retirement community where he is staying. It is a well-equipped shop with TWO cabinet saws – an older model which I cannot recall, and a brand new Saw-stop with extension tables and everything.

    In the hour that I was there, I saw at least two older gentlemen come in and rip short pieces of wood WITH NO RIVING KNIFE OR GUARD IN PLACE! They pushed the wood past the blade with their fingers, not even a push stick. None of these safety accessories were even visible – I have no idea where they are stored.

    Two other gentlemen who regularly use the shop stated that NOBODY in the community bothers to use either the guard or the riving knife. They are all so impressed that the saw will keep them from cutting off their fingers that they are totally oblivious to the dangers of kickback. I pointed out that it will only take one incident of a board thrown back into someone’s stomach to prove that the saw is still dangerous, but they seemed indifferent.

    Remember, people in retirement communities often do not have a long history of machine use. Also, they are older, their reflexes are slower, and vision is not as keen. If there is no emphasis on proper and consistent use of all safety equipment, that Saw-Stop is just as dangerous as any other saw.

    IMO.

  11. Robert Cook

    I own a small woodworking company employing in good times about 25 people. Many years ago I had an employee cut 3 fingers off on a properly guarded powermatic. He, the operator, decided to bypass the guard. Because he chose to bypass the guard I was not a fault.

    Having been sued before and lost I can see how the lawyers would use this technology to sue the employer for negligence. This makes me want to go out and replace all 4 of my table saws, but, where is the money going to come from?

    You can read and understand all the safety recommendations and or be trained by an experienced, safe operator. But, it only takes a split second, one bad decision and fingers are gone.

    We are human and as humans make mistakes. I think the Saw Stop technology is awesome and intend to buy one when I buy my next table saw. In fact I’m considering buying the 10" cabinet saw for my home shop.

  12. Chris C

    Jim had made some points:

    "Cost plays into most decisions that corporations make. However, the SawStop saws are only somewhat more expensive than their competitors. They just don’t offer any bargain-basement products."

    The SawStop is a lot more than their competitors, and they are
    never to my knowledge discounted under list. I still think they
    are a great value anyway, but that’s just me.

    "Not safe, safer. And manufacturers use licensed technology all the time in their products."

    No, I disagree. That is not what an attorney would state when
    one of the devices failed his client. That’s not how these guys work.
    In the case of the unknown, they’d rather it say on the box: "WARNING:
    this product will cut your hand clean off if you make a mistake."
    rather than imply you are somehow "protected". At least until they
    have a comprehensive understanding of the technology. Or perhaps
    they are developing their own. ??

    And manufacturers are very picky about what they license. This isn’t
    software; your supplier or license granter goes DOA and you are
    in a world of crap with thousands of physical products coming
    off a line.

    "No, actually they are doing it because of a new UL standard that started phasing in riving knives by 1/2010."

    There are no UL standards that mandate anybody do anything. They
    are a privately owned testing agency with a federal charter
    of sorts. You can be "UL listed" if you pass their tests.

    OSHA can, but that is in the workplace. I believe the CPSC can as
    well for the consumer space. But I don’t think they have mandated anything. At any rate, I think magazines like this one, that berate
    manufacturers over not including riving knives has had a lot to
    do with it.

    chris

  13. Peter

    I agree that the plaintiff, who chose not to buy a sawstop, should assume responsibility for his injury.

    What interests me the most is the business decision that all of the major manufacturers made when they showed Gass the door. I don’t blame the lawyers at those companies. When you make business decisions, you should consult with all of your experts: your sales and marketing people, the finance guys, and your legal counsel. It is the responsibility of the lawyers to state their opinions and provide their assessment of the potential risks. The finance guys can run the numbers, working with the sales guys to figure out how the decision affects volume and price. The finance guys tell you how much they think it will cost to manufacture, and you run the numbers. Then you weigh the pros and cons.

    In my humble opinion, this is a situation where the manufacturers listened to their lawyers a bit too much. From what I can tell, Sawstop is selling well even though they cost nearly twice as much as other comparable saws. The competing manufacturers made a bad business decision. The sooner they admit that and start exploring their options for implementing a similar safety mechanism, the better off they’ll be on the bottom line.

    Sawstops are well made saws. But my uneducated guess on why they’re able to command such a price premium is due to the lack of competition and the fact that they’re probably still trying to recoup their initial R&D cost (which is significant for a startup with only a few products). Delta Porter Cable could EASILY afford the R&D costs necessary to develop such a device since they have so many streams of revenue to cover it. That means they could afford to develop this technology and offer the saw at a lower price than the sawstop from the get-go…

    They could crush Sawstop via competition (which would be very sad). I just don’t get why they haven’t done so.

    I bet they’ll come out with a competing technology in the next 5 years. By then, I hope Sawstop will have maintained its competitive edge by offering new woodworking tools with their brake technology. Otherwise they’ll be sunk.

    Just my $.02.

  14. Jim S

    "1. It is not easy to retrofit. the SawStop was designed with the safety brake in mind at is core. Other saws are not."

    The technology became available around 2001 – 2002. Most manufacturers have brought out new generations since then.

    "2. It is not a large corporation that owns this technology. It is three guys(two of them lawyers). This might be too risky a dependency for a company that ship a gigantic number of products(ie: almost every major tool company)."

    I believe that SawStop did not intend to manufacture the product itself until they were unable to license it. The saw manufacturer or a third party would have built it, including the blade braking technology.

    "3. The license fees are too high. ?? I don’t know what they are but it is a possibility. See #2 above as well."

    Cost plays into most decisions that corporations make. However, the SawStop saws are only somewhat more expensive than their competitors. They just don’t offer any bargain-basement products.

    "4. Nobody wants to claim their saw is "safe" in general, let alone based on a technology they don’t know/own."

    Not safe, safer. And manufacturers use licensed technology all the time in their products.

    "5. Many manufacturers are under the assumption(and I agree) that kickback is more dangerous… almost every manufacturer now offers riving knives and improved guards across their product lines. I would suspect it is because of customer demand…not lawsuits."

    No, actually they are doing it because of a new UL standard that started phasing in riving knives by 1/2010.

  15. Chris C

    "All that said, I don’t understand why tool manufacturers would not attempt to offer the SawStop option on their products."

    I already mentioned a number of reasons earlier. to elaborate:

    1. It is not easy to retrofit. the SawStop was designed with
    the safety brake in mind at is core. Other saws are not.

    2. It is not a large corporation that owns this technology. It
    is three guys(two of them lawyers). This might be too risky
    a dependency for a company that ship a gigantic number
    of products(ie: almost every major tool company).

    3. The license fees are too high. ?? I don’t know what
    they are but it is a possibility. See #2 above as well.

    4. Nobody wants to claim their saw is "safe" in general,
    let alone based on a technology they don’t know/own.

    5. Many manufacturers are under the assumption(and I
    agree) that kickback is more dangerous than a flat
    out amputation. The SawStop doesn’t help with kickback
    other than with typical things: riving knife, etc.

    Speaking of #5, you should take note that almost every
    manufacturer now offers riving knives and improved
    guards across their product lines. I would suspect it is
    because of customer demand…not lawsuits.

    chris

  16. Eric Sandvik

    The bottom line is if the argument is the Sawstop tech was available. Then why didn’t he buy the Sawstop. He knew what the difference in safety was then. He also knew the difference in price. He made his risk to cost analysis and then didn’t pay attention.

    I don’t have a table saw, if I were to buy one considering my general lack of experience around them I believe I’d go ahead and spend the money for the piece of mind. Other people might not. Its their right to not purchase them just as it’s Ryobi’s right to offer a saw without that feature.

    Now if the Ryobi saw had a defect in manufacturing that caused the blade to fly out and chop his fingers off that would be a different story.

  17. Archae

    As one who nearly lost two fingers on a radial arm saw 25 years ago, I can honestly say I wish the blade breaking technology had been available and in place at that time. I admit the fault was mine. I was tired, working outside at dusk, and in a hurry to do one last cut. There was no question then about suing the manufacturer because I understood and assumed the risk.

    All that said, I don’t understand why tool manufacturers would not attempt to offer the SawStop option on their products. It would then be the purchasers choice to spend a bit more for improved safety or not. If not, manufacturers could require the consumer to sign a waiver, thereby indemnifying them.

    I don’t think anyone should be forced to retrofit/replace their tools in order to make them safer. Obviously choosing not to clearly implies the owner understand and willing assumes all risk. However, I wish a retrofit kit were available for my Shopsmith as I would purchase it even if I had to have a trained technician install the device. It’s not that I want to be more lax regarding my personal safety, but for the peace of mind that I’m protected in case I am.

  18. Rick

    I don’t argue the value of the Saw Stop breaking system. I would absolutely love to have one on my PM2000. I’m arguing the ruling of this lawsuit. Does that mean if I get in a car wreck with my 1990 Honda Civic I can sue Honda because the company didn’t put airbags in my car when other manufacturers were doing it at the time?

    If Powermatic comes out with a retrofit break system for my saw I would likely buy it. But I certainly don’t hold them responsible for not having it. When I bought my saw the Saw Stop was sitting right next to it. I loved it. I still chose the Powermatic.

  19. -Murphy

    To Glen and the other editors,

    Seems you have sparked a contentious debate. Why not do one of your online surveys to determine the relevance of the Saw Stop technology to the market represented by the readers of the blog?

    To capture the essence of the debate you would have to frame the question so it weighs the cost of the technology against the benefit.

  20. John Gray

    Very informative Glen. Great job!
    The included links have valuable information about the litigation and background of SawStop, reminds me of the old story "One lawyer in town everybody got along fine. But a second lawyer came to town and people learned about lawsuits and were always fighting."

  21. Jim S

    "I understand what you are saying but have a hard time applying this to woodworking. So do we offer air bags on our router tables, band saws, jointers, planers, miter saws, drill presses, etc. Forcing manufacturers to put these break systems on tablesaws doesn’t solve the problem."

    Table saws will be MUCH less dangerous if they have these brakes installed. Not absolutely safe, but much safer. If they become affordable (and I think they will sooner or later) , I think they should be put in all table saws. We just may get there, and this lawsuit may just make the tool makers wake up and make it happen. I just don’t understand why anyone would be against that. I’m not advocating a law at this point, just for consumers to demand this feature, and for manufacturers to figure out how to do it affordably.

    The reality is that even smart, experienced, careful operators have terrible accidents. Some people always blame the operator, but being perfect all the time just isn’t likely. True – some make it through a career without having a serious accident. That’s great, but would you rather need to be perfect all the time, or would you rather have a backstop to protect you when you’re not 100% on your game? Nearly everyone has gone to work on short sleep, or when they were taking cold medication, or after they had a fight with the wife, or being behind on a project and having the foreman yell at them to hurry up. We can’t avoid these conditions.

    If similar safety devices become available for other tools, it may make sense to use them. It depends on how hazardous the operation, effectiveness of the device, whether other engineered safety measures (for example, guards) are effective. We’ll see what the market can dream up.

    Jim

  22. Chris C

    Just because an invention came about does not imply that every
    manufacturer must stop what they are doing and immediately
    retrofit it to his goods. If it is so great, why would they
    have to be forced to license it?

    Better question: What would they NOT license it? Answers:

    1. It is expensive, especially to retrofit to an existing design.

    2. It is not well understood because it is new and they
    don’t want the liability of advertising a "safe saw" that ends
    up cutting off somebody’s fingers after you swore it would not.

    3. The irony of safety devices. Are SawStop users more or less
    careful than those who do not have such safety devices?

    Remember Sir Humphrey Davey. He invented a safety lamp called the
    miner’s friend that avoided explosions in coal mines. He
    genuinely believed it would save lives. He even refused to patent
    it so it would become ubiquitous. How ironic that Davey likely
    ended up getting far more people killed that he ever saved. Now
    ignoring the inherent dangers of the mines(and there are many)
    workers went deeper than ever using even more aggressive methods.

    Is the SawStop in some way another miner’s friend? I don’t know. But
    what I do know is this: It should be up to individuals to decide
    if they can expose themselves to danger. Not governments and not
    lawyers.

    If the market(that is, you and me) want such a device so badly
    it will be done. But can’t the market decide it doesn’t want it
    too?

    Chris

  23. Bob

    As a retired "scumbag lawyer" who also loves woodworking, especially on his PM Model 66, I feel it is important to add a new fact into the discussion. Products liability law, which is the theory under which this claim was brought, is not about fault, negleigence or blame. It is about apportioning risk through out society. Manufacturers are presumed to be better able to spread the costs of an injury than the individual who is injured. They can adjust their prices, but the injured person has no mechanism to get help.
    There are limits to product liability, chiefly that the product must be unreasonably dangerous. Before SawStop, manufacturers could correctly point out that all saws involve some inherent danger from incidental contacts because they had no way of preventing injury when that occurred. After Saw Stop that argument no longer holds water.
    Society would certainly benefit from a less costly way of adjuicating claims than one where the outcome is a function of jury decisions rooted in sympathy for the injured plaintiff, and plaintiff’s lawyers take a third or more of the verdict as a "contingent fee" but at the end of the day products liability is still a pretty clever way to make products safer and shift the cost burden of an injury through out society.

  24. Tim

    I just called my lawyer over at Dewey Cheatam and Howe. He is coming over this morning to tour my shop, we should both be billionaires by lunch….SCORE!

  25. Rick

    Jim – I understand what you are saying but have a hard time applying this to woodworking. So do we offer air bags on our router tables, band saws, jointers, planers, miter saws, drill presses, etc. Forcing manufacturers to put these break systems on tablesaws doesn’t solve the problem. Heck, the table saw isn’t even the most dangerous tool in the shop. I would hate to have my hand go through my 3 1/2 hp router – it would turn it to ground chuck. Get the lawyers and politicians involved and the next thing you know I will be forced to plug in my paring chisel to activate the security mechanism.

  26. Paul Fowler

    Monday, March 08, 2010 12:59:55 PM (PST, UTC-05:00)
    All this means my (4)old saws will more valuable until they are banned!

    Bit I’m Much Better Now!

  27. Bill Gardnerson

    Great news. Will make sawstops much cheaper because soon there will be competition. The old tool makers were stupid to think this day was not coming. Serves them right for not caring about amputations.

  28. Dave Griessmann

    Interesting… So every time I hit my thumb with a hammer or cut myself with a chisel I should first call my lawyer vs get a band-aid or ice?!?

  29. Jim S.

    To me, this issue is a lot like airbags in cars. This technology has saved many lives, and truly made cars inherently safer (but obviously not absolutely safe). Airbags first became available in the early 1970s on a very few models (Cadillacs?), but didn’t become truly common until the mid-1980s, when Chrysler decided to offer them as standard equipment on all its models. Suddenly, all the manufacturers realized they needed to offer them on all their models, and they made that happen within a few years. They got better and cheaper at the same time.

    Now airbags just come in cars, it’s built into the price, and few give it another thought. Funny, I’ve never heard anyone complain that they would like to buy a car without an airbag to save a few bucks. Also, no one has proposed collecting all the old cars without airbags and crushing them.

    If the big tool manufacturers decided to offer SawStop or their own similar systems, pretty soon the devices would get cheap. Before long, nearly all table saws would have them. All those saws would be inherently safer, and we would have a hard time remembering what all the fuss was about.

  30. Eric R

    I’m all for mandatory safety devices, but at what cost?
    Sooner or later, all power tools will have better safety technology; but no technology is equal to using your head in the shop.

  31. Rick

    Come on people – Blades are sharp and coffee is hot. Who is to blame – the lawyers, the scum bags that go to court with their opportunistic claims or the miopic jury members that rule these cases(assuming it even got that far).

    Do we really need to be told not to spill coffee in our laps? Hey, now that I think about it I did slice my finger open today when clearing the sawdust from the gullets of my new Bad Axe hand saw. The set MUST have been too wide. Does anyone know of a good lawyer. I’m ready to retire.

  32. Jim Lancaster

    I’m of two minds on this one:
    1. If the manufacturers, after listening to the Saw-Stop presentation, were advised by their lawyers to NOT adopt the new technology, then their lawyers are guilty of malpractice and should be culpable for the damages being awarded. The manufacturers hired their counsel for their expert advice, and they followed it. The manufacturers were NOT experts in the matter of law. They are as much the victims in this as anyone.

    2. We do not live in a risk-free world, and some people are more risk-averse than others. If I chose to pay less for a saw that does not include the Saw-Stop technology, then why shouldn’t I be able to? Everyone knows the potential pitfalls of parachuting from planes, yet this practice is allowed to continue. Why is this different?

    I could go on, but there is steam shooting from my ears right now and it’s alarming those around me.

    Jim

  33. dave brown

    I’ll buy something like the SawStop when my kids are old enough to use a table saw (or when my shop becomes large enough to use a table saw). But for me, I’ll exchange the capital investment for the acknowledgment I have to be careful with my power tools and am responsible for my fingers.

    How much are we going to have to pay to live in a lawyer-approved world?

    A world where we mandate air-pressure sensors because people can’t be bothered to check their tires’ air pressure? A world where there is a disclaimer attached to everything you bring home from the store. Rob Lee has to label irons for his planes with a warning because of stuff like this. If you’re buying a blade, don’t you expect it to be sharp? If I stick a butter-knife in my toaster when my bagel is stuck, who’s the idiot? Me or the engineer that didn’t put a warning sticker on it?

    Are we just going to end up paying more for everything, just so we don’t have to use common sense?

    sheesh . . . .

  34. Chris Friesen

    Realistically, we all knew this was coming. And realistically, the old-school saw manufacturers should have seen the writing on the wall and licensed the tech or some up with something similar. I don’t own a sawstop, but if I were shopping now the "pro" version (as opposed to the "industrial" version) would be awfully tempting as insurance for those unlikely scenarios where something unexpected happens.

  35. Jeremy Pringle

    I bet this guy did not read, understand, or follow all the safety rules that came with his power tools. Makes you wonder if he was even wearing his safety glasses.

  36. Bruce Jackson

    Full disclosure, as are many friends who are artisans or craftspeople, I tend to be progressive and libertarian in how I view issues.
    First off, allow the consideration that the very best safety device is a mindset well-informed with state-of-the-art habits we should all practice to avoid injury, including taking a breather from this often strenuous activity when needed, NOT when The Man’s production schedule permits. Ten and 12 hour days six, seven days a week for long stretches do NOT enhance worker safety … or for that matter help to reduce workers’ comp expenses.
    Secondly, it seems Marc Adams’ 3" safety zone is about as close to state-of-the-art safety procedures as we can get. I wonder about the effectiveness of using plaintiff’s negligence in running his / her saw as a counter-argument to his / her complaint that the saw did not have the braking device.
    Third, a band saw is considered much safer to use than is the usual table saw. As is a circ saw. Did the plaintiff have those safer choices at hand? (Point: It’s not just about the money – I avoid buying a table saw to force me to use my band saw or circ saw, just as I have a miterbox and back saw as well as a tailed miter saw.)
    Fourth, in this age of specialization, given the first three considerations, how well informed are the attorneys, really? And if informed enough, how much character to go where the evidence point? There’s enough reason to take on a fake Aussie or Cockney accent, saying "foine" for "fine", and "loiar" (sounds strangely like "lawyer") for "liar". Does anyone wonder why politics is a lawyer’s second career? And we seem abjectly unable to do an honest job of workplace, healthcare, or financial reform? Let alone safety devices for dangerous tools, like table saws?
    Finally, after reading the Inc. article, does anyone still believe that private enterprise still works in a free market? Is Santa Claus still the best reason we can muster for being good boys and girls?

Comments are closed.